Bay Theatre

340 Main Street,
Seal Beach, CA 90740

Unfavorite 23 people favorited this theater

Showing 1 - 25 of 30 comments

42ndStreetMemories on November 10, 2018 at 8:11 pm

Just watched a HGTV program on the renovation of the theatre and the apartment above it which was complete by show’s end. What happened to the renovation, which they showed in process, and the opening of the theater?

GaryParks on July 26, 2018 at 8:03 pm

The best way to get really accurate information on when the Bay (Beach) opened and reopened under Fox would be to check the B'Hend-Kaufmann Collection of the Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. I mentioned the Herrick Library images to him some time ago in an email—and he has posted images which I remember from that collection, or else identical images from another collection. Anyway, in addition to photos of the Beach/Bay, there is complete paperwork about the theatre’s sale, remodeling and reopening, including correspondence from Fox West Coast Theatres. It may indeed be true that it opened in 1945. But there was some information in the file dating from the 1930s. Perhaps that is when it was first planned.

Larry_Strawther on July 23, 2017 at 1:49 pm

A slight correction to the original article on the Bay. The Bay was not built in the late 1930s. It was built and opened in 1945 (Thanksgiving evening to be exact) as the Beach Theatre by Oscar Johnson. Seal Beach did not have enough of a population to support a theatre until after the Navy base was constructed in 1944, and even then it was dicey. Johnson sold the Beach in June 1946 to National General (20th century Fox). They closed it, did some renovations, and reopened as the Bay Theatre in July 1946. For the first ten years or so, the theatre was only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. In the late 1950s as the surrounding area population grew, a manager started doing foreign and arthouse showings on Tuesday thru Thursday.

Alan Bell
Alan Bell on September 20, 2016 at 3:19 pm

From LA Times, Sept. 13, 2016:

The iconic Bay Theatre in Seal Beach has sat dark for the past four years, but a Fullerton-based developer with a penchant for historic buildings has recently made it his mission to purchase the venue and rehabilitate it for films, music and the arts.

With the Seal Beach City Council’s vote Monday officially designating the structure as a historic landmark, Paul Dunlap of the Dunlap Property Group is one step closer to breathing life back into the abandoned building.

Located on Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway, the single-screen theater has been a significant gathering spot for locals since it opened in 1947. It featured independent, foreign and classic movies on 35mm film for $8 admission until it closed in 2012. The noticeably large structure stands out among the boutiques and other shops on Main Street.

If all goes according to Dunlap’s timeline, he will close escrow on the $2.25-million purchase by December, and then he’ll apply for a conditional use permit and spend all of 2017 in reconstruction and redevelopment.

The building, including the interior, will be returned to its original aesthetic, sans the Wurlitzer Opus 1960 pipe organ, which was removed in 2007, Dunlap said. Once strictly a movie house, he said the theater will continue to show films but will also showcase performing arts.

Suelyn on May 21, 2016 at 2:16 pm

The Bay is currently for sale. Next door a giant building is currently being built. I am sure it’s an optical illusion, but it seems only inches away from this building. I would love to see the Bay reopen and play some wonderful old films.

GaryParks on October 24, 2013 at 10:08 pm

Newly-discovered information: The Bay was actually built in the late 1930s. It was then called the Beach. Independently owned and operated, and designed and constructed on a VERY tight budget, it was acquired by Fox West Coast and remodeled (much improved) c. 1947.

baytheaterfoundation on September 25, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Hi all, please check out The Bay Theater Foundation: a nonprofit organization dedicated to buying and restoring the Bay Theatre in Seal Beach. Reach us at . Thanks!!

meheuck on November 15, 2012 at 4:20 am

As of November, no news of progress on hiring new staff or reopening the place. Not promising.

dtrigubetz on August 3, 2012 at 10:18 am

Unfortunately, “temporary” usually means “permanent”. Here is their website:

CTCrouch on August 2, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Their recording states that they will be “temporarily closed”.

Robert L. Bradley
Robert L. Bradley on August 2, 2012 at 12:43 pm

This theater is closing tonight. Does anyone know if it is permanent? I’ll be in LA this weekend and I was hoping to go there.

Robert L. Bradley
Robert L. Bradley on February 28, 2012 at 9:10 am

Whay a coincidence. I was also there for “The Warriors”, and was surprised at the quality of the print for such an old movie. I had no idea it was from 1979 until I read the copyright date on the end credits. I live in Virginia, but in my travels I seek out single screen theaters to visit. I guess I live in the past, but I enjoy experiencing movies the way I remember from my youth.

dtrigubetz on February 27, 2012 at 3:13 pm

I was also at the Bay Sunday night for the 6PM showing of “The Warriors”. Luckily, as a non-projectionist I tend to miss most imperfections and the Warrior print was quite good. Seal Beach was surprisingly quiet. I hope this theater can stay open. I live in N Hollywood and made my first visit since 2009. When I lived in Norwalk in the 1980s I enjoyed many movies at the Bay.

Robert L. Bradley
Robert L. Bradley on February 27, 2012 at 12:05 pm

I visited this theater last night and was disappointed to see that there was no curtain. There was also no side masking to close in for flat pictures. And there was a mark across the whole screen about a foot up from the bottom. A good point, however, is that the projection was excellent. It was focused the minute it hit the screen. As a retired projectionist, I am always critical of the projection. But the projectionist at the Bay gets an A+ from me.

rlsinger on July 7, 2010 at 1:18 pm

CORRECTION…Contact for information on sale/operation of Bay Theatre, Seal Beach, CA is Rena L. Singer, 813-786-7772 or

rlsinger on July 7, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Contact for information on sale/operation of Bay Theatre is Rena L. Singer, 913-786-7772 or

monika on June 14, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Here’s a June 2010 exterior photograph (sorry, Simon!):
View link

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on June 14, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Thanks Chuck1231 for the pictures.

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on April 18, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Auditorium shots… Auditorium shots!!!

Too many facade shots from the same position.

drb on May 11, 2009 at 4:41 pm

The links in the article are worth checking out as well.

View link

[quote]Main Street scene: Bay Theatre for sale

Seal Beach’s landmark movie house, the Bay Theatre, is on the market for $3.3 million, Jeff Collins reports in the Orange County Register. He says the theater is being marketed as a potential site for a market-savvy movie buff, but also could be converted into a restaurant, office or retail space. “It’s irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind real estate,” says CB Richard Ellis agent Joe Miller. “If someone has a vision, they can do something with it.”

Keep reading here.

Since 1947, the Bay has stood near the corner of Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway, an old-fashioned movie house with vintage seating and just one screen. The theater shows independent and foreign films and weekly screenings of classic films.

Glue magnate Richard Loderhose purchased the Bay in 1975 and installed his prized 1928-built Wurlitzer organ there. The final pipe organ concert at the Bay drew a packed house in 2007, when the owner’s family donated the organ to a retirement center in Phoenix. The Register says the theater has been on the market for three months.[/quote]

miracle on February 18, 2009 at 7:46 am

who would I speak to re; the theatre for sale? It is such a great place.


Simon Overton
Simon Overton on February 5, 2009 at 7:47 pm

A local friend has just called me to mention the Bay Theatre is on the “for sale” market at $3m plus.

GaryParks on August 15, 2007 at 9:43 pm

Update: The Bay Theatre organ has been removed, and either donated or sold to a religious school. Though I always am disappointed to see an organ removed from a theatre, maybe this will allow the original murals flanking the original screen area to once again be seen, if they’ve survived the intervening years.

pxiepower13 on May 26, 2005 at 3:32 pm

The Bay theater is like an escape from the crazy movie going scene. It is such a great place to see a movie. Like the other commenters said, down town Seal Beach is a quaint town. The reastaurants are great and taking a walk on the pier is a treat. If you have the chance to go, go. Take your friends too!